Minnesota’s boldness — and investment — was rewarded.
Nearly two years to the day that the state and city of Minneapolis agreed to help finance a new Vikings’ stadium, the NFL paid back the efforts by announcing Super Bowl 52 will be held in Minnesota in 2018.
Minnesota and the Vikings’ nearly $1 billion new facility were selected over New Orleans and Indianapolis after a series of votes Tuesday at the NFL’s league meetings in Atlanta.
Minnesota’s bid, with the theme "Built for the Bold," rewards an effort on behalf of the state of Minnesota and city of Minneapolis, which contributed to the split public and private financed stadium.
"We emphasized that," Vikings’ co-owner and president Mark Wilf said after the vote on NFL Network. "The public-private partnership is unique to this city and the state. It’s been a great partnership to date and I think that’s something that hopefully is an important point to recognize going forward. We thought that was a big, important thing."
The new stadium, which is currently being built on the footprint of the former Metrodome, is set to open with the 2016 NFL season. The facility is being built with $348 million coming from the state and $150 million from the city of Minneapolis.
A decades-long fight to approve financing for a Metrodome replacement finally came to fruition when the state legislation was signed into law by Minnesota governor Mark Dayton on May 14, 2012. The city of Minneapolis approved its share on May 24, 2012.
Two years later, the investment and a lot of behind the scenes work in getting the stadium and a Super Bowl paid off.
"We appreciate the collaborative effort from Minnesota’s business and community leadership in putting together this winning bid," Wilf said in a statement. "It was evident to me and my brother Zygi that the other NFL owners were extremely impressed with everything Minnesota had to offer, and we have no doubt they will be even more excited with what the community will deliver in February 2018."
In doing so, Minnesota broke a string which had seen New Orleans earn a Super Bowl each of the first 10 times the city had put in a formal bid. New Orleans, which would be celebrating its tricentennial in 2018, was seen as the favorite and has hosted the Super Bowl 10 times, which is tied with South Florida for the most.
The NFL has rewarded cities for building new stadiums, particularly in regards to those with public financing.
Next year’s game is in Glendale, Ariz., which had the new University of Phoenix Stadium open in 2006. Levi’s Stadium in Santa Clara, Calif., which is scheduled to open this season, will host the following year followed by Houston.
"We are thrilled to bring the Super Bowl back to Minnesota," said Richard Davis, Minnesota’s bid committee co-chair. "We succeeded in making the best case to the NFL owners by pointing out the many strengths our region offers a tremendous entertainment and hospitality industry, strong connectivity with both our light rail and skyway systems, and perhaps most important, a new, iconic stadium that will be among the best in the country."
Minnesota’s new stadium will seat 65,400 people and is expandable to 72,000 for the Super Bowl. The "bold" features of the stadium include a partially clear roof and five large glass pivoting doors to give the indoor facility an outdoor feel.
Minneapolis hosted the Super Bowl in 1992 in the Metrodome when the Washington Redskins beat the Buffalo Bills. Competing against the cold-weather bias was part of Minnesota’s bid.
"Even though it’s cold outside, it’s an incredibly warm community, very welcoming," Wilf said in an interview on NFL Network. "They’re going to be very hospitable and do a great job hosting this. The venues they have, they’re fantastic. A great new state of the art world-class, first-class stadium on all fronts, we felt good at counteracting that and we’re going to welcome the winter. We’re going to have ice festivals, all kinds of cool stuff that the fans and the public can enjoy."
A long process finally played out Tuesday. NFL owners went to a full four-vote session to determine Minnesota as the recipient of Super Bowl 52. After not receiving a super majority, which is 75 percent or more, in the first two votes, Indianapolis was excluded as the lowest vote-getter.
Another vote between Minnesota and New Orleans didn’t receive a super majority, the vote went to a final majority with NFL commissioner Roger Goodell announcing Minnesota as the host in 2018.
"It was nerve-wracking," Wilf said on NFL Network. "We’re very appreciative. Again, it’s a first-class venue, a community that has hosted the Super Bowl and done a great job, great legacy programs, a lot of great things for the community and it will be great for fans. Just that facility and how we’re all going to come together and make this a great event for everybody. I think that and the public-private partnership really made a big impact."